Once upon a time this bustling hub for adventurers heading into the Parque Nacional Torres del Paine was little more than a sleepy fishing port on Seno Ultima Esperanza. Nowadays Puerto Natales is a lively base camp for hikers, rafters, cyclists, climbers and more. As a result you’ll now find an ever-growing litany of cool cafes serving wonderful local cuisine and craft ales sitting comfortably alongside shops selling all the equipment you might need for heading out into the wilds. And what spectacular wilds they are.
Areas & Neighborhoods in Puerto Natales
Mirador Cerro Dorotea — For the best views across the town to the distant mountains, take the short trip to the top of nearby Cerro Dorotea. With a trail that weaves through picturesque meadows and woodlands, the journey itself is almost as scenic as the destination.
Torres del Paine — This renowned national park is a real jewel in the crown of the Extreme South of Patagonian Chile. Featuring three spectacular towers of rock, from which the park derives its name, this Andean wonderland also boasts epic mountain ranges, glittering lakes and daunting glaciers.
Grey Glacier — This awe inspiring glacier can be seen from a couple of viewpoints in the Torres del Paine park. One view is at John Garner Pass as you follow the big circuit of the Paine Mountain Range. The other view of the glacier is from the far shore of Grey lake to the south, from where you can also observe ice floating close to the shore.
The Cordillera Paine — This mountain range in the Torres del Paine park might be small but it is nonetheless impressive. It’s highest peak is the Cerro Paine Grande which stands proud at nearly 3,000 metres in height. The most renowned feature of this range however are the simply awe-inspiring Towers of Paine - three vertiginous monoliths, whose name actually translates as Towers of Blue, as opposed to anything more ominous.
Things to See in Puerto Natales
Clearly the main attraction in Puerto Natales is its proximity to the Torres del Paine park, but that’s not to say that the town itself doesn’t hold some interest of its own. If you head out to the boatyard to the south, you’ll find a wonderfully rustic scene of fishing boats hauled ashore for maintenance and repair. Meanwhile just outside of town, the old freezer plant at Puerto Bories is an enigmatic and intriguing former museum and national monument.
Things to Do in Puerto Natales
Puerto Natales is an absolute dream spot for anyone looking to get active in the great outdoors of Chile’s Patagonia. With hiking, rafting, and cycling all readily available options in the Torres del Paine National Park, you’ll find plenty to keep the blood pumping as you explore this spectacular landscape at the end of the world.